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Volunteers needed to help children learn to read before school

PUBLISHED: 12:30 16 November 2017

Childhood reading habits can last a lifetime.

Childhood reading habits can last a lifetime.


A literacy charity is looking for volunteers in North Somerset to help children to develop their reading skills before they start school.

Books for Schools campaign. Books for Schools campaign.

Story Starters has just been launched across Somerset to help children to develop essential skills to give them a head-start when they begin school.

Children aged three to five will receive support from trained volunteers to help them develop their language and reading skills.

Story Starters is a new, collaborative project between national children’s literacy charity Beanstalk, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and LuCid (The ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development).

Beanstalk, which is also backing the Mercury’s Books For Schools campaign, is now looking for volunteers to help with the innovative programme.

Amelia Shaw, Beanstalk South West’s area manager, said: “We know how important it is for children in the early years of their education to receive support with their language development, as this enables them to start primary school ready to read and able to thrive throughout their lives.

“We are asking for more people to come forward as volunteers now so they can be trained as Story Starters.

“It really can be one of the most rewarding things you’ve ever done, so do join us.”

Story Starters volunteers will visit children twice a week and help three children for 20 minutes each.

Sessions are fun, interactive and hugely beneficial to the children who take part.

Research has shown children who benefit from high-quality support in their early years start school on average three months ahead in their literacy and language skills, compared with children who do not.

The programme has been given £1million in funding until January 2017 from the People’s Postcode Lottery,

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library will also provide every Story Starters child with professionally-selected books which will be sent to the early years provider and the home of each child, so they can enjoy stories at home.

The next Story Starters training course is being held on Wednesday in Taunton. Visit the Story Starters website to find out how to become a volunteer.

The Weston Mercury is running its Books For Schools campaign to donate books to cash-strapped primary schools across North Somerset.

Research shows children who can read well do better academically and have access to more career opportunities in later life.

Reading is also known to improve wellbeing, develop children’s imaginations and help them to interact with others.

Due to budget cuts, cash-strapped schools have less money to spend on new books and we are keen to help them boost their library stocks by handing over a selection of new reads

once a month.

We are appealing for donations of book vouchers and also new and second-hand books so we can give pupils

access to new and exciting reads to stimulate their imaginations and help them develop a life-long

love of reading.

Books and gift vouchers can be dropped into our office in Waterloo Street.

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